Here are five safe outdoor activities to keep kids entertained instead of cooped up in the house.
"Fun" and "outdoors" should go hand in hand, especially during the whole Covid-19 pandemic. Whether you have older kids or preschoolers, the entire family can still enjoy summer activities that can keep your kids entertained outdoors where it is safer in the open air.
Certainly water balloons, sidewalk chalk, and the sprinkler can be fun in the yard, but we're all ready to get outside and we need a plan. We've tried some fun ideas for outdoor fun, such as scavenger hunts and backyard picnics, but it's time to use these same concepts in ways that can have a learning effect while still providing entertainment value.
Social distancing in the summer months is as easy as walking out the door, but there must be a few ways to keep safe and have fun while doing it. One smart way to instill a good reaction in kids is to remember that this is the summertime, and while the weather allows for it, we should get out there and get dirty! Keeping clean doesn't have to be a concern!
Since summer camps are less likely to be open and you may want to limit their screen time, it's time to put away the jump rope and the frisbee and start showing kids what the greater outdoor world has to offer.
1. Cast Animal Tracks
If we want our young boys and girls to really learn something new and educational, we need to get them acquainted with the great outdoors. One interesting science experiment that they may have never tried is as easy as getting some plaster mix.
This isn't the first time that we suggested this, but now is a good time to rekindle the idea. It's as easy as procuring some plaster of Paris, or even better, some alginate powder (used to make dental moldings) online for a reasonable price.
As fun as it is to mold the tracks, the idea is to actually find them and identify the tracks for the animal that made them.
Good places to start include creek beds, ponds, and the trails that lead to and from them.
2. Build a Campfire
Sure, this can be safety issue, but you are right there as their most important teacher. Kids are attracted to a hot fire when it comes time to cook wieners or make some s'mores, so why not start by showing how it all begins?
Gathering the kindling is part of the learning process. It is the first way to help them understand what burns well and why. It's is a great opportunity to discuss the difference between hardwoods and softwoods and what types of trees each type of wood comes from.
At some point we all need to know and understand this basic skill.
3. Play in the Creek
Who remembers playing in the creek?? #goodolddays
There is so much to see and learn in even the smallest bodies of water, and there aren't many kids out there that don't like to splash around and explore these ecosystems. It seems like every single one of us started off our outdoor "career" by playing in a creek, so why not our own children?
Sometimes it's as simple as filling a mason jar with water to see what tiny things are swimming around in there, and other times it's about crawfish and minnows.
Water shoes are a must, as you don't want small feet to get cut on a sharp rock or have something even worse happen.
Remember, this is the best place to learn why water is so important, especially when it comes to keeping it clean. Surely they've seen the difference between bodies of water that are clean and full of life, and ones that are dingy and lifeless.
There's nothing like the persuasion of water when it comes to creating a future conservationist.
4. Trail Trash Pick Up
This may not be the end-all of entertainment for kids, but hear me out. Always take a few trash bags along for a hike to the creek or pond because, unfortunately, litter is often the first thing that you see.
When the parents or guardians join in, it makes it seem less like work. Short of calling it a treasure hunt, you can still make it into some sort of game where the fullest bag wins a reward.
The bottom line is that kids need to understand why it is important to keep our woods and waterways clean, and if it gets them outside, that's all the better.
5. Ultra-Lite Bike Ride
Odds are there are lakes, ponds, canals and streams close by that are just asking for a kid on a bike to come fish them.
It's not always easy to carry fishing gear on a bike, so an ultra-lite system would be just the thing. A simple, smaller version of a classic lure works great, like the jointed Rapala, in-line spinner, jig, or small crankbait. They are easy to bring and are proven fish catchers.
Get a fishing pole in their hand and some excitement in their heart, and the outdoor world becomes something even better.
Outdoor adventures are almost always an option, and there are kids everywhere that could use some encouragement to try them. We're all striving to make the most of our outdoor opportunities, and it's high time that we wholeheartedly include the kids!
It's easy to get stir crazy and feel cooped up while staying at home, so finding some fun activities to do in our favorite wide open spaces might be just the thing.
It's in the great outdoors that we may just find ourselves in the safest place anywhere.